Leeds festival has been somewhat of a tradition. For five years on the trot, i have seen some amazing bands,drank a lot of warm beer and had countless campsite memories.After a three-year absence it’s time to head back and as i am leaving for Germany in September it’s only fitting the Summer is ended the way it should be. Having fun,seeing bands and creating absolute carnage. Here are a few of my most memorable moments:-
Aberdeen has arrived
The first year is a complete blur now. And for good reason. We were 18 and 10 of us rocked up all completely unprepared for what was a head of us but all perfectly equiped to make each others life a misery. I had accosted a tent straight from a world war 1 exhibition and took down pretty much nothing. With the pack mentality our friends had devoloped it was only a matter of time untill carnage arrived. Before the first night my one man,damp,and shite coloured tent was kicked to the ground and drowned with beer . ‘Fatboy’ had been scribbled in suntan lotion. I still slept there that night before sleeping rough in a scousers doorway the rest of the weekend. Wilson reminded me lately on how much of a mess i was. But i wasn’t alone. Everyone was on a mission to drink as much,smoke as much and be as loud as possible. Andy tore down all the lights,James wrestled and challenged people and i shan torches in peoples faces determined they were vampires. The rest? No idea….
Linkin Park and the Nu – Metal Era.
What does stand out from the first year was the bands.Blink,System Of A Down,Metallica,Sum – 41,Less Than Jake,Alkaline Trio,Funeral For A Friend. I religiously loved the bands i listened too. I would go to gigs three/four times a week and this was at the height of ‘the scene’ days.
Linkin park headlined the main stage and i was riddled with excitement. Hybrid Theory still to this day is one of my favourite albums. A bottle fight began before hand and it was pitch dark. We we’re fairly far back. When they finally came on stage the place went mad. I decided to crowd surf from the back straight to the front to get in amongst the action. I was floating in the crowd for a good few minutes. I felt like i was on top of the world as was thrown closer to the stage. I had a perfect view of the band. I had planned to slip in three to four rows back but that didn’t work out. I got dropped straight off into the mosh pit and got slammed. As i gathered my own space another crowd surfer got dropped straight onto my head.My neck had taken a fair knock and i was suffering.As soon as i got in,i needed to get out. The quickest way i imagined was going over the barrier but this didn’t look like an option at the time. I held my eye as if i got busted open and made my way back through the crowd.Everyone parted to let me through and i was back to where i started. In a sea of thousands of people i was surprised with how easy i navigated it. Amazing.
In a similar scenario that year Hell Is For Heroes played the Radio 1 stage at the height of their popularity. The tent was crammed and absolutely electric. I remember climbing a light tower and throwing myself off in hope of the crowd catching me. As i was a fat bastard the crowd moved in fear of their lives,leaving me to slam myself straight to the floor. Ouch.
One year the festival decided to recruit a security firm from Glasgow who we’re actually glorified door staff. Over the years the security have been good value however that year was an accident waiting to happen.
Fires we’re put out without warning,tents we’re raided for drugs and generally the security threw their weight around in a place that could easily escalate into anarchy. There was a buzz going around the festival that everyone was to meet at ‘the hill’ on the last night and rebel. Soon fires had started,buildings had been smashed up and the Carling vans (filled with beer) looted, with crates being handed out to the masses. I remember thinking it was about to get ugly.A burger van generator exploded in a steel bin,sending people to the floor.I felt the heat on my face from a couple of hundred yards.The people around must of been hurt.This seemed to be the cue for the shit to hit the fan. The security armoured up in full riot gear and formed formations. Soon a stand-off began and everything from rocks,bottles and fireworks were thrown. I remember a small group of security being blocked into a corner with torn down fences and pelted.It went on through the night and i sat on the hill working my way through a crate of Carling with Joe. Suddenly the security charged and the crowd scampered. Anyone within striking distance was batted and shielded. We ran up the hill and got back to camp,hiding any beer we had. That morning i bumped into a guy who had lost his girlfriend during the mayhem. They we’re actually just trying to pass through and he told me he got dragged into a room and beaten up. He had a black eye and a bloody nose. He couldn’t find his girlfriend. It was a bitter end to a festival with an already bitter taste,however one i will certainly never forget.
The campsite at Leeds always has its banter. It had been quite mellow and low-key one year so we recruited Joe for the following. The combination of Joe’s dry humour,a bottle of cider and a blonde wig created a weekend of laughs. I had seen a lot of Joe that Summer and we just seemed to bounce well off each other. Me and Wilson got a huge kick out of winding him up. Getting chased by a sunburnt Joe with a blonde wig,carrying the threat of “Crocker – if i catch you,im going to punch you right in the face” sticks out well in my mind. He never did catch me but if he did find me i would have been crippled on the floor somewhere in fits of laughter.
We had been up drinking all night and Joe passed out around the 7am mark. An hour or two of sleep later we volunteered to get water. I remember breaking into a verse of “I want it that way” by The Backstreet Boys to the whole of the campsite. Everyone joined in on a clap and sing along and when I’d finished received a round of applause by everyone around. It was Joe’s turn to partake in fits of laughter. I’ll not only never forget that night with him.I’ll never forget that Summer.
Joe you are sorely missed. Wish we could have done it again sometime. Hand on heart – one of the best ( and ugliest cross dressers) ever. Legend – Joe Park.
Was and still are my favourite band. The anticipation of them playing was incredible. Although i had to stand through an hour of Kings Of Leon which was hellish it was all very worth it. Crowd surfing to Learn to Fly,singing every song word for word and feeling on top of the world.
Magic. Just can’t beat that feeling.
Summing it up
Leeds has brought to me 5 of the best weekends of my life,so it is of no surprise that i have high expectations of Reading this year. I have met some amazing people and seen some and done some extremely silly things. Although I’m a bit older and i won’t be doing anything as daft i am certainly looking forward to seeing live music again and creating new memories and stories. Since it’s my last weekend in the UK before i move to Germany – I intend on going out on a high.
Have a great Summer everyone. Take it easy.